Tips for students on both sides of the bullying spectrum.
How common is bullying in schools?
Bullying affects both sexes and has negative impacts on the victim as well as the bully. An estimated 12 to 18 per cent of boys and girls reported being bullied and bullying others, according to research from PREVnet, a Canadian authority on bullying prevention. School strategies need to address both victims and bullies across school demographics. Learn more about the facts and myths of bullying.
Strategies focused on building self-esteem, developing respectful relationships and providing clear but respectful communication tend to be the most successful. Children who are bullied need to be empowered and supported in developing healthy relationships. Bullies on the other hand, need to learn social responsibility, empathy, right from wrong and remedial actions such as rebuilding relationships and apologizing. There is emerging evidence from PREVnet that children who bully risk a lifetime of difficult relationships with others, including being bullied themselves.
What kind of behaviours count as bullying?
Bullying can appear in several forms:
- Verbal bullying: Examples are name calling, making fun of, making jokes at another's expense, unwelcome teasing, spreading secrets someone disclosed in confidence.
- Physical bullying: Pushing, shoving, pinching, hitting, spitting, damaging property, vandalizing locker or school supplies.
- Social bullying: Examples are spreading rumours, being exclusive with friends, excluding people from events or study groups.
- Cyberbullying: Using social media to intimidate, exclude, disseminate private information, using texting, emails, or other applications to damage someone's reputation.
What can you do as a parent to prevent or deal with bullying?
- Encourage your child, youth, student or classmate to report bullying they either experience or witness to school staff such as teachers, counsellors, principals or parents.
- Provide opportunities for open dialogue about sensitive topics so kids can gain the positive mental health, emotional intelligence and language skills to talk with their peers about difficult issues.
- Lead by example - talk things out, be a good role model.
- Teach kids simple conflict resolution skills, the importance of using “I” language to express emotions and taking responsibility for your own actions, words, feelings - to promote empathy.
- Learn to recognize and intervene if someone is being bullied - intervening can be empowering for both the person being bullied and the one who intervenes.
- Teach children that saying sorry is a strength.
- Help your child change their school dynamics — join different study groups, sports teams, after school activities, make new friends, build new relationships.
- Encourage a bully to reflect on why she or he bullied, and how they would feel if the tables were turned and they were on the receiving end.
- Have a classroom discussion about respectful and acceptable language and behaviours.
- PREVnet: Canada’s bullying prevention research and resource site
- What parents need to know: A PREVnet bullying primer for parents
- HealthLink BC: Bullying
- Government of B.C.: Keeping kids safe from bullying, harassment and intimidation